First a quote: “An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows your light to shine brightly.”– Unknown
Frequent air travelers know that in the event of changes in cabin air pressure, one must put on his or her own oxygen mask before helping others. This is not a selfish directive; it is critically important to the safety of yourself, and others, especially if you’re traveling with anyone needing additional assistance.
This same edict is true in much of life as well. Parents who become exhausted and run down are not emotionally available for their spouses or their children. Drowsy drivers are a danger to themselves and others on the road. There is a reason the US Department of Transportation limits the number of hours, and shifts, a truck driver can be behind the wheel of their big rigs. The FAA has similar restrictions for pilots and airline crews. People’s lives depend upon these professionals to be at their very best.
I have noticed an unfortunate paradox in many areas of my life, perhaps you have as well. For instance, those times in my marriage when I have needed to be my “very best self” as a husband, I have been at my very worst. When I have needed to be my “best self” as a parent, perhaps I was tired or angry, regardless, I was at my worst. I can think of similar situations as a leader, where I have needed to be at my best, and again, I was at my worst to the detriment of the people, teams and organizations I served.
I find it ironic that when we need to be our “best selves” as leaders, during times of conflict, stress, pressure and change, we are sometimes at our worst. This is when “self-care” comes into play. Sometimes, to be most effective as leaders, to serve others well, we must put our “oxygen mask” on first.
Since we’re all different, only you know what the best solution for you might be. Here are a few things that work for me, and many of my coaching clients:
- Exercise (don’t have time for the gym, walk around the block and get fresh air)
- Learn about, read about, and practice mindfulness
- Provide an outlet for negative energy (organize a game of basketball, or other sport)
- Take a vacation (can’t take a vacation, take a day or half day to regroup)
- Read a book
- Listen to music.
- Watch a sunrise, sunset, or stare at the stars.
- Go to the beach and listen to the surf roll in.
What do you do to recharge, refresh, or refill, to be your “best self” when needed most? I welcome you to share your ideas with my readers on this topic.
How will you lead, or live, differently, or better, this week?
Bonus Quotes Below.
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Have a great week!
“Expanding Your Capacity for Success”
- “When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.” – Benjamin Franklin
- “Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley
- “How do you define ‘taking care of yourself’? Create a new self-care practice today. Observe your comfort level when it comes to being good to yourself. Discomfort is a wise teacher.”– Caroline Myss and Peter Occhiogrosso
- “Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.”– Etty Hillesum
- “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”– Anne Lamott
- “Taking care of yourself doesn’t mean me first, it means me too.” – L. R. Knost